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Snellen test types, Leeds, England, 1930-1970

Snellen test types, Leeds, England, 1930-1970

Credits: National Railway Museum

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These charts of letters used by an optician to test a person’s sight at various distances. Such charts are perhaps the most iconic objects in sight testing. A patient with good vision should be able to read the letters at a distance of six metres. The original sight charts were developed in the 1850s by Dutch ophthalmologist Hermann Snellen (1834-1908). The letters, from largest to smallest, are all a precise shape and size. Such charts are still commonly used.

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Related Themes and Topics



Glossary: ophthalmology

The branch of medicine dealing with the diseases and surgery of the visual pathways (usually the eyes or the brain).

Glossary: Snellen test types

Chart used for vision testing. The chart shows lines of black letters varying in size from large to small down the chart. Which a patient is asked to read. The optician is able to tell the level of the patient's eyesight when s/he can not read any further.